Monday, June 20, 2011

Apple Sued Over iCloud and iBooks

Apple, who has traditionally been on the offensive when it comes to trademark claims, now finds itself playing defense as at least two companies have sued the company claiming two of their newest naming schemes are violating trademarks.

A Phoenix, Ariz.-based communications company, named iCloud Communications is seeks an injunction against Apple's use of the iCloud name, as well as an unspecified amount of monetary compensation alleging Apple has copied its name. The six-year-old company, which provides voice-over-IP and other cloud computing products and services, claims Apple was "willfully blind" and knew about its iCloud name.

ICloud's Complaint
The goods and services with which Apple intends to use the "iCloud" mark are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by iCloud Communications under the iCloud Marks since its formation in 2005. However, due to the worldwide media coverage given to and generated by Apple's announcement of its "iCloud" services and the ensuing saturation advertising campaign pursued by Apple, the media and the general public have quickly come to associate the mark "iCloud" with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications.

In a second similar complaint a New York publisher is suing Apple over its use of the term "iBooks." Publisher John Colby claims that his company purchased rights to over 1,000 books published under the "ibooks" name, beginning in 1999. The lawsuit notes that Apple holds an "iBook" trademark for computing equipment, but didn't start using the term to refer to its e-book products until 2010, several years after Colby purchased the book rights.

"Apple's use of the mark 'iBooks' to denote the electronic library that can be accessed via its iPad tablet computer and its iPhone is likely to overwhelm the good will of plaintiffs' 'ibooks' and 'ipicturebooks' marks and render them virtually worthless," says the lawsuit.

It looks like Apple's reign of using generically trademarked "I" terms might be crashing down upon then. The company is currently fighting a trademark dispute with Amazon and Microsoft who are both arguing that the company's App Store trademark is invalid because generic ideas like "tire store" can't be trademarked.

These two lawsuits might hold a little more weight as they are directly involving specific trademarks rather than a more generic term. It should be interesting to see how these cases turn out.

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